Council of Europe urges France to halt use of rubber bullets


The Council of Europe rights group on Tuesday urged France to halt the use of rubber bullet launchers blamed for dozens of injuries to anti-government protesters in recent weeks.

France is one of few European nations to use so-called defence ball launchers, known by the French abbreviation LBDs, which shoot 40-millimeter rubber projectiles that are considered non-lethal.

French authorities “should suspend the use of LBDs during operations aimed at maintaining public order,” the council’s human rights commissioner Dunja Mijatovic said in a statement.

She also urged the government to review its regulations soon on the use of so-called intermediate weapons for riot control, to ensure they respect law enforcement’s primary task of protecting “citizens and their human rights.”

The reported injuries “raise questions about the compatibility of the methods used in operations aimed at maintaining public order with due regard for these rights,” Mijatovic said.